Causes Of Memory Loss : Dementia
What is memory loss and what are the causes?
Everybody forgets things from time to time. In general, the things that you tend to forget most easily are the things that you feel do not matter as much. The things that you tend to remember most easily are the things that are important to you – for example, a special birthday. However, some people just seem to have a better memory than others, and some people are more forgetful than others.
There are certain situations that can affect your memory and make you become more forgetful than you normally are. They can include the following.
If your concentration is poor then you do not notice things as much, and do not retain things as much as you would normally. Poor concentration can be a result of simply being bored or tired. However, it can also be a symptom of depression and anxiety.
What I intend to bring to you with this post is a brief talk on dementia. Subsequently we shall look at how to care for them.
Dementia is a broad category of brain disease that cause a long term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember such that a person’s daily functioning is affected. Other common symptoms include emotional problems, problems with language, and a decrease in motivation. A person’s consciousness is not affected. For the diagnosis to be present it must be a change from a person’s usual mental functioning and a greater decline than one would expect due to aging. These diseases also have a significant effect on a person’s caregivers.
Globally, dementia affects 36 million people. About 10% of people develop the disease at some point in their lives. It becomes more common with age. About 3% of people between the ages of 65–74 have dementia, 19% between 75 and 84 and nearly half of those over 85 years of age. In 2013 dementia resulted in about 1.7 million deaths up from 0.8 million in 1990. As more people are living longer, dementia is becoming more common in the population as a whole. For people of a specific age; however, it may be becoming less frequent, at least in the developed world, due to a decrease in risk factors. It is one of the most common causes of disability among the old. It is believed to result in economic costs of 604 billion USD a year. People with dementia are often physically or chemically restrained to a greater degree than necessary, raising issues of human rights. Social stigma against those affected is common.
EFFECTS OF DEMENTIA
Dementia affects the brain’s ability to think, reason and remember clearly. The most common affected areas include memory, visual-spatial, language, attention, and executive function (problem solving). Most types of dementia are slow and progressive. By the time the person shows signs of the disease, the process in the brain has been happening for a long time. It is possible for a patient to have two types of dementia at the same time. About 10% of people with dementia have what is known as mixed dementia, which is usually a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and another type of dementia such as frontotemporal dementia or vascular dementia. Additional psychological and behavioral problems that often affect people who have dementia include:
- Disinhibition and impulsivity
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Balance problems
- Speech and language difficulty
- Trouble eating or swallowing
- Delusions (often believing people are stealing from them) or hallucinations
- Memory distortions (believing that a memory has already happened when it has not, thinking an old memory is a new one, combining two memories, or confusing the people in a memory)
- Wandering or restlessness
When people with dementia are put in circumstances beyond their abilities, there may be a sudden change to tears or anger (a “catastrophic reaction”). Depression affects 20–30% of people who have dementia, and about 20% have anxiety. Psychosis (often delusions of persecution) and agitation/aggression also often accompany dementia. Each of these must be assessed and treated independently of the underlying dementia.
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which makes up 50% to 70% of cases. Other common types include vascular dementia (25%), Lewy body dementia (15%), and frontotemporal dementia.Less common causes include normal pressure hydrocephalus, Parkinson’s disease, syphilis, and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease among others.
In young adults (up to 40 years of age) who were previously of normal intelligence, it is very rare to develop dementia without other features of neurological disease, or without features of disease elsewhere in the body. Most cases of progressive cognitive disturbance in this age group are caused by psychiatric illness, alcohol or other drugs, or metabolic disturbance. However, certain genetic disorders can cause true neurodegenerative dementia at this age. These include familial Alzheimer’s disease, adrenoleukodystrophy (X-linked); Gaucher’s disease type 3, Niemann-Pick disease type C, , Tay-Sachs disease and Wilson’s disease (all recessive) amongst others. Wilson’s disease is particularly important since cognition can improve with treatment.
At all ages, a substantial proportion of patients who complain of memory difficulty or other cognitive symptoms have depression . Vitamin deficiencies and chronic infections may also occur at any age; they usually cause other symptoms before dementia occurs, but occasionally mimic degenerative dementia. These include deficiencies of vitamin B12, folate or niacin, and infective causes including cryptococcal meningitis, HIV (amongst others not listed here)….
Sources: Lippincott Neuroanatomy
Harper’s Illustrated Biochemistry